Everyone knows the Christmas poem, “The Night Before Christmas?” How old were you when you found out it was also called, “A Visit of St. Nicholas?” In my case, 62. Incredibly, most everything known about the concept of Santa Claus and Christmas gift giving is derived from this poem.
Generally attributed to Clement Moore, the verse was first published anonymously in the Troy New York Sentinel in 1823, submitted by a friend of Moore’s.
Seems Moore thought himself too scholarly to have penned such a verse. A professor at the General Theological Seminary, Moore was recognized as the author in 1837, although he never acknowledged it personally until published in a book of poetry in 1844. He included this particular poem - perhaps the most well-known in history - at the insistence of his children.
Unfortunately, there is controversy with who actually wrote the poem. Major Henry Livingston, Jr. also is attributed to have written it - according to his family.
Th Livingston family claim is supported by MacDonald Jackson, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. So certain is Jackson, who has spent his career studying the authorship of various written works, je published a book in 2016 regarding the authorship of the poem.
To add further to the controversy, some white-bearded, irksome columnist printed a purloined oafish adaption to the poem in a company newsletter in 2017. (Not sure his family will claim it) This author sought to acknowledge the plight of lonely truckers hurrying home late Christmas Eve, having been peddling holiday novelties, cheer and food across the country. You see, they too have families waiting for them.
A TRUCKER’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the land,
Not a creature was stirring, ‘cept the big rigs all manned,
With truckers; days and weeks on the road, delivering freight,
Now trying to get back home, afore it’s too late.
The children are nestled, all snug in their beds,
With visions of Santa and their daddy dawdling in heads.
And mamma in flannel nightgown; such a hectic day,
Had just settled herself down, she began to pray.
She’s uneasy for her trucker to return safe and sound,
She knows he’ll be hurrying to come back ‘round.
To be home with the family by this Christmas morn,
To celebrate this momentous day our Savior was born.
The moon had lain on the breast of the new fallen snow,
She had wanted him to stay, but understood he must go.
Yearning all day; to their home he would appear,
Surely, he’s getting close, no doubt he had to be near.
She thought of his eyes, oh how they can twinkle!
And the withered forehead; now covered in wrinkle.
The silvery hair on his head, long does it grow,
And the stubble on his chin, white as the snow;
He’s getting heavy and plump, a right jolly old elf,
Smiling at thoughts of his belly…in spite of herself.
A wink of his eye though would be what is required,
And be home safely this wintry night, it’s what she desired.
He’s sometimes not shaved and is prone to foul moods,
Tarnished he may be; and sometimes a little rude.
But you see, he’s been cursed on the road; delayed at a dock,
And his travels make sure your Christmas gifts are in stock.
While folks arrange Christmas and merrily enjoy this magic season,
Trucker’s deliver goods all over the country for good reason.
Shelves are to be filled; a livelihood; a way to support a family,
Taking him farther from home than sometimes he wants to be.
Now he’s another lonely trucker on this Holiest of Nights,
Driving highways toward home as Nature puts up a fight.
But he’ll be hurrying on this most magical of flights,
The Lord bringing him home safely would be her delight.
When, what to her wondering eyes should appear,
A big ‘ol eighteen-wheel semi becoming oh so clear.
Yes, it’ a blue Pete, and pulling a white trailer-van,
She knew in a moment…it had to be her man.
More rapid than eagles, the big rig came,
He whistled, he shouted and called her by name.
To the top of the porch! and in through the front door,
He dashed in the house, slidin’ 'cross the floor.
He sprung to her side, and grabbed her in a big bear hug,
She giggled with glee; “welcome home you big lug.
As they sat by the fire enjoyin’ nog in the bright light,
She smiled warmly while whispering,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"